What Are Google's Performance Max Campaigns?

Google’s Performance Max campaigns

If you are tired of managing and optimizing your PPC campaigns, Google has created Performance Max, a new type of campaign that can help you. Finally, marketers can be marketers and take a strategic position in someone’s business rather than engage in campaign micromanagement.

With Google’s Performance Max campaigns, you will have more room for other tasks and time to think strategically about your PPC campaigns.

How do Google’s Performance Max campaigns work?

When Google started introducing automated machine learning-based campaign types and automated bidding options, choosing them was almost always a bad option. But this era of Google's first automation attempts is long behind us, and Google's machine learning has become more complex and precise. Today, it is common for advertisers to use automated bidding options or data-driven attribution models, and these strategies have proven profitable for most businesses. 

Google is now trying to automate campaign targeting and deliverability, and the result of this is the Performance Max, Google's first semi-automatic campaign type. We say semi-automated because advertisers still need to be involved in the campaign creation and optimization process.

Unlike other automated Google Ad campaigns (Dynamic Search ads are related to the landing page's content), Google will automate targeting and deliverability of the Performance Max ads based on your assets.

Google will automate ad creation based upon the assets provided, similar to Responsive Display ads (an ad format that has replaced standard extended ads). It gives advertisers 15 headlines and four description slots that are later rotated based on Google algorithm and users' search preferences. 

Advertisers need to provide a series of ad creatives (a call to action, additional ad copy, and relevant images or videos), and Google takes care of the rest.

How can you create Google’s Performance Max campaigns?

Before creating a Performance Max campaign, ensure that you have implemented conversion tracking on your Google account.

Step 1: Set the Goal

The first step in creating a Performance Max campaign is to set a goal. This could be online sales, lead generation, or offline sales. For online sales, you should configure the Merchant Center.

Google’s Performance Max campaigns

Step 2: Set a Budget and Bidding Strategy

Bidding strategy options include Max conversions and Max value, but you can also set a max CPA or a target value/conversion, allowing you to leverage Target CPA and Target ROAS strategies.

Google’s Performance Max campaigns

Step 3: “Asset Group” Set Up 

You’ll then have to set up an “asset group,” equivalent to an ad, which is similar to a responsive display asset. This “asset group” is called an asset group because it acts as an asset to all platforms, and advertisers can create multiple “asset groups.”

Assets are currently ranked as Low, Good, and Best, based on their performance in the campaign to show what’s performing well and which ones to replace to drive better performance based on similar assets. The Combinations report shows top creative asset combinations (image, text-only, video), and you can see how those combinations serve as an ad. Expect to see more asset insights coming to the Insights page, such as which assets perform best with which audience segments.

This is where the advertiser needs to pay the most attention and show creativity by providing the following assets:

  • Three headline versions
  • Two ad descriptions
  • One longer headline
  • 600×316 landscape image
  • 300×300 square image
  • 314×314 square image
  • 128×128 logo
  • A 10-second-plus video for video ads (if you don’t have one, Google will automatically create it)

Step 4: Create Audience Signals

By selecting target audiences, you might help Google find your ideal customer in a shorter time. This can be a good idea if you know your customers and have a lot of data from your previous campaigns. But it might hinder Google's algorithms process of discovering new audience segments.

A recommendation is to use custom segments and your remarketing audiences (built from Google Ads and Google Analytics) to signal segments of users that are most relevant to your business and most likely to convert. Customer lists and custom segments, interests, demographics, in-market segments, life events, etc., can all be used as signals.

Google’s Performance Max campaigns use those signals to speed up optimization. Audience signals are optional, so if you don’t provide any or provide signals that turn out not to be effective, Performance Max will still seek out the highest converting audience for your goals, but the ramp-up will likely take time.

Google’s Performance Max campaigns

Step 5: Add Extensions

These can be existing site-level extensions, or you can create your site links for your Performance Max campaign. Helpfully, Google suggests creating specific formats depending on your campaign objectives, like adding a form extension if you want to gain leads.

Optimizing Google’s Performance Max Campaigns

Try to optimize creatives by including new and replacing old visual elements, making tweaks, and seeing which combination of creatives works best (Low, Good, Best).

You can also tweak and test audiences, and there will be a possibility to create negative keywords lists. But for now, you should contact your Google representative to do this for you. Hopefully, there will be an option to attach negative lists on this campaign type in the future.

What is the Advantage of Google’s Performance Max Campaigns Over Other Campaigns? 

Standard campaigns are ‌Search, Display, Video, and Shopping ads and are limited by channel. What is unique to the Performance Max campaign is that this type will cover all the possible channels for you, testing where your ad might be the most profitable.

By combining brand campaigns, existing campaigns, and Performance Max, you can quickly get your campaigns' slight or significant scaling. 

Optimizing other campaign types is a continuous and tedious process for less experienced advertisers or small business owners who are not entirely familiar with PPC advertising. And this can be a reason for them to switch to Google’s Performance Max campaigns.

Of course, some business owners who have experience with PPC advertising may not be satisfied with giving up control in this manner. However, it can be good to experiment with Google’s Performance Max campaigns to see what kind of results they can deliver.

Performance Max campaigns are goal-related, meaning that Google's algorithm will try to meet a goal (optional tCPA or tROAS) you set from the start. This campaign type is best when you have a purchase (e-commerce business) or lead generation conversion as a goal.

Performance Max Is Good in the Following Situations

  • You already get a healthy volume of conversions through search ads and want to build on that
  • You are finding it difficult to scale up your existing search campaigns
  • You want to maximize conversion performance while minimizing your management time

When Not To Use Google’s Performance Max Campaigns?

If you have large budgets assigned to Video and Display, you should probably stick with campaigns specifically made for those channels. Those specific campaign types (Display, Discovery, Video) offer better control over creatives, and you can target audiences directly.

If you want to run campaigns specifically for branding or influencing decision-making, you should stick with campaigns that allow you to focus on those goals. Also, if you don’t yet have a robust paid search strategy in place, Performance Max is probably not a good option.

As Neil Patel said, “Performance Max campaigns will not be everyone’s cup of tea. PPC experts who can eke out a lot more revenue by optimizing every facet of a campaign won’t enjoy the set-and-forget nature of Performance Max campaigns.”

There are many issues experienced PPC experts will find regarding this campaign type. Mostly they will dislike giving Google a larger amount of control over their ad spending and targeting. Also, there are still some technical problems with this fairly new campaign type. Some advertisers have experienced a problem with reports and others with a lack of negative list functionality.

The Future of Google’s Performance Max Campaigns

Google Ads will automatically transition existing Smart Shopping campaigns into Performance Max campaigns between July and September 2022. Local campaigns will be automatically transitioned between August and September of this year.

So, prepare yourself for Google’s Performance Max campaigns because they are taking over big time!

About the author

Aleksandar Jankovic

Aleksandar Janković is a Google Ads Specialist at Sellers Alley. He works with clients to develop and execute digital marketing strategies in Google Ads. Aleksandar helps them reach their goals by finding new ways to market products and services to customers through various channels. He has vast experience in planning, setting up, and managing campaigns in Google Ads, and using tools like Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.

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